As many people know, I am a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Love them or hate them (many people choose the latter), we can’t deny the results that they’ve achieved. They have won 6 Super Bowls since 2002 and have been to 4 others, and are one of the greatest dynasties of all time, alongside other greats such as the Bulls in the ‘90s, the Celtics in the ‘60s and 80’s, the 49ers in the ‘80s/’90s, etc. These teams have achieved undeniable success and have spent years, sometimes decades, on top of their leagues.
Success is achieving a goal, but mastery is knowing that it means nothing if you can’t do it again. When Tom Brady was asked in 2018 what his favorite Super Bowl ring was, he said, “The next one.” This is the mindset that masters have. Mastery is in the reaching, not the arriving. It is in always looking forward, and never being satisfied. As Sarah Lewis says in the video, “We thrive, not when we have done it all, but when we still have more to do.”
“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal, but to a pursuit.”
Yes, we need to all take time to appreciate our accomplishments. Too often, however, I see people use this as an out to stop working. They say that they’re going to embrace and enjoy their victory, and they take days/weeks/months before moving forward. What a waste of momentum! We should be using that momentum to propel us to something even greater, because we can only reach extreme heights with momentum. After a success, we need to do what the greatest teams do: celebrate a big win that night and get back to work tomorrow.
The idea of near wins is to focus on some ways we have had success, and to use that success but also the knowledge that we didn’t quite reach our goals to catapult us forward. It doesn’t mean to pat ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished, but to use them as our motivation for what we have not yet accomplished. Near wins help us feel like we’re close to what we want, so it keeps us moving forward toward that goal.
One of my biggest takeaways from this video is that we need to pursue excellence in obscurity. If we are unknown, we think it means that we should give up and that we are not good enough. That is not the case! It just means we have not become masters in our subject yet. Think of one of your mentors or heroes. Why are they your hero? Probably because they accomplished something you admire or respect. But you don’t see the work they put in to reach that point. They became a master in obscurity, and then
If you’re not where you want to be yet, or aren’t reaching the external results you seek, I can promise it’s because you haven’t reached the internal results you need. Work on developing your craft by yourself daily, and consistently. Become committed to the pursuit of your goals, and not to your goals. You may feel like you’ve done all you can, but you can do more. As David Goggins said, “When your brain tells you you’re done, you’re only at 40%.”
Be grateful, but never satisfied. This is the best way that I have found to continuously push myself forward. You can’t have one without the other and live a fulfilling life. If you’re only grateful you will stop pushing yourself, and if you’re never satisfied then you’ll live your whole life being bitter. Enjoy your successes, embrace your victories, but always have something pushing you forward. “Mastery is not a commitment to a goal, but to a constant pursuit.”
Use your near wins to be grateful for what you’ve accomplished, but also to recognize how far you have to go. If you look at the results from past Olympic games, you will see that those who got a silver medal improved more than those who got a bronze medal from the previous Olympics. I think this is because the bronze medalists are just grateful for getting something instead of finishing fourth, but the silver medalists realize that they were so close. We all are so close. Make your near wins a pit stop, not your destination.